Charlie Harvey

December 2012 Reading

  • Virtual History, by Niall Ferguson

    A Christmas present from my dad, this is a collection of 9 counterfactual accounts of history, rooted in what contemporary observers believed likely or possible, written by leading (mostly British) historians. Ferguson’s introduction is a good discussion of the role of determinism in the practise of historians, though it annoyed me by its lazy and simplistic conflation of communism, fascism, socialism and feminism (femininism substitutes gender for class, etc.) The essays imagine Britain without Cromwell, a Nazi Victory against the USSR, a British North America and so on. By looking at how things might have been different, the authors focus our attention on the unpredictability of events, indeed Ferguson draws the parrallel with chaotic behaviour in deterministic systems.

    2012-12-29 by Charlie Harvey
  • The Plague, by Albert Camus

    I first read The Plague when I was in my late teens. Re-reading it was well worth the time. Its a sort of allegorical story about the Nazi occupation of France but more than that a morality tale about how people confront terror, and the inevitablity of death and exile. The tale is of the coming of a plague to the Algerian town of Oran, how it turns everyday life completely upside down and how each of the central characters chooses to confront their fate. Camus is a wonderful writer and utterly compelling to read.

    2012-12-22 by Charlie Harvey
  • The Fold, by Gilles Deleuze

    Deleuze is hard and this is one of his hardest. He deals with the philosophy and to some extent the mathematics of Leibnitz as a jumping off point into a larger discussion of the nature of the baroque and the nature of "difference with itself". I think I’ll need to read more than once. And probably read some Leibnitz too.

    2012-12-22 by Charlie Harvey
  • Zeros and Ones, by Sadie Plant

    Beautiful, poetic late nineties techno mashup — part post structuralist feminist critique, part cyberpunk biography of Ada lovelace. Really glad that I picked it up for two quid at my local Oxfam.

    2012-12-05 by Charlie Harvey
  • Vile Bodies, by Evelyn Waugh

    Waugh writes beautifully about posh people in the twenties.

    2012-12-01 by Charlie Harvey


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